You know his smile and asinine wit, but who is the face behind The Backbencher?
Milton Archibald Freeman was born to a debutant and successful city broker. He grew up with his time split between boarding school, his parents London pad, and their secluded estate in Surrey.
At school he ran a successful tuck shop and cigarette smuggling racket. He also acted as a broker between those wanting their homework done for them, and those willing to do other people’s homework for pay. Milton’s genius was in acting as a middle-man for students who would never meet, keeping the suspicion of the teachers and prefects to a minimum. Milton’s money and connections allowed him to buy the protection of the schools resident ‘heavies’. As we shall see, Milton was never queasy about using every means necessary to keep the wheels of industry turning.
It was here that Milton got a taste for politics too. He attended debates initially to scope out new customers, but soon found himself taking part. He experience of commerce gave him a cynical and hardened world view, which was in sharp contrast to what he saw as the misty-eyed idealism of cosseted princlings.
Milton followed his father into the City. After a brief, uneventful spell as an account manager for a shipping company, he moved to the commodities field. He took to this with the zeal of a convert, quickly establishing a name for himself as a savvy risk taker, especially in minerals in developing markets. The European empires in Africa were winding down, and there were plenty of opportunities for traders willing to leave the relative security of trading with the more stable markets in Australian and North America.
Milton traveled extensively, making many friends as he went. His penchant for heavy drinking, his impeccable suits (even in the desert) and his rakish charm with women, quickly endeared him to fellow dealers and local traders alike.
It was this period of his career that Milton’s detractors are increasingly interested in. During his tours of the continent, Milton came in to contact with some of the darker aspects of post-colonial Africa. It is documented that Milton met with a young Maputu, who was then an ambitious lieutenant with family connections to the mining industry. How close the two became is unclear, but it was this same Maputu who, as a colonel, launched a military coup against the Left-leaning prime minister, declaring a state of emergency and proclaiming himself as President for Life. This would have been brushed of as yet another African tragedy, but for that fact that Milton profited hugely from the crash privatisation program implemented by the Maputu regime.
Milton was a big supporter of the Reagan Administration, and attended many fund raisers. At home, although still not involved with party politics, Milton reveled in the deregulation of Thatcher’s Britain, profiting hugely from telecoms and defence.
Milton became more political as the 80’s wore on, and was a keen advocate of braking the back of the trade unions who he accused of holding British industry and commerce down. In once speech as head of the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, he drunkenly called for the army to be brought in to crush the miners strike. The timing of his speeches was unfortunate, coming as it did the same week Generals Maputu and Pinochet were accused by the UN of ‘disappearing’ their own trade union leaders in brutal crack downs.
Milton was put off joining Thatcher’s Conservatives in part because of its pro-European streak and in part because of the spiteful in-fighting. Milton was by now identifying himself as a libertarian, and refused to join a party, despite Tory offers of a safe seat.
The 1990’s saw Milton exasperated at the paternalism of the Major government, and then outright despairing at the spendaholic Blair years. His libertarianism became more vocal, and he began to attract support from like minded writers and activists. He wrote several books on the virtues free market and truly limited government.
Now a non-executive board member on several of his own firms, Milton has retired back to his home constituency of Oakfield & Hawthorne.